Graveney set to face Illingworth

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David Graveney is likely to be Ray Illingworth's chief rival for the position of chairman of England selectors, with the deadline for nominations passing today.

Graveney is receiving strong backing from Warwickshire, the county champions, who feel the time is right for change. But there is still a substantial body of support among England's 18 first-class counties for the 63-year- old Illingworth.

Graveney, 43, was an England selector last year and is secretary of the ers' Association. If chosen, the former Gloucestershire captain is likely to favour the appointment of a team manager with day-to-day responsibility, plus the use of more specialist coaches and motivators.

His age, and his reputation as a steady character and a good judge, have persuaded his supporters that he is the right candidate to take on Illingworth, who has been nominated again by Yorkshire and by at least one other county.

England's winter tour manager, John Barclay, and the England A manager, John Emburey, are other names that may be under consideration by counties in a postal ballot to take place before the end of this month.

Illingworth's position as England team manager, meanwhile, is to be discussed by the Test and County Board's executive committee next Tuesday. Whether he wins the chairman's vote or not, though, it is doubtful the 10-man executive will pass up the opportunity to ease into that position someone younger, like Lancashire's David Lloyd or Emburey.

Some counties, however, believe that the end of Illingworth's initial two-year contract as chairman has come at the wrong time, and that to jettison Illingworth now would be to seriously compromise David Acfield's investigation into the way England's national teams are run.

The Acfield Report, to be completed in July and set in motion just a fortnight ago, will produce recommendations for a structure to take England forward, but those conclusions could end up at odds with what could be forced through during the next fortnight in the wake of an Illingworth departure.